Dealing with Overwhelm



Even people who speak on mental health and know the impact of mental health issues can struggle. I've been dealing with emotional overwhelm for the last few weeks. There have been times when overwhelm results in anxiety for me. I feel panicky and emotional like I'm going to cry at the drop of a hat - or I have that feeling like I'm so emotionally plugged up that I need a really good laying in bed, drool and snot-filled ugly cry. However, there are also times when overwhelm shows its ugly head in other ways. I'll start:


  • prioritizing the Mystic Courtyard Butterfly Event on Wordscapes

  • staring out the window at nothing in particular

  • posting funny memes on Facebook on most of my updates (which means I was also spending time looking for funny memes to post)

  • getting lost in my own head - like daydreaming but with less happiness

  • researching meaningless concepts that have nothing to do with anything - like "can dogs have cinnamon applesauce"

  • shopping online by putting things in a basket but never actually purchasing them

  • feeling lethargic but not tired

  • procrastinating against anything that would cause me to think

  • wondering what the heck I'm doing with my life

It's a vicious cycle. I'm overwhelmed with everything I need to do and take care of, and I procrastinate against everything I need to do because I'm overwhelmed with it all. I do have strategies to help myself out. I've learned these over time because I've gotten better at recognizing the symptoms. Whenever you can name what the challenge is it's a powerful way to reframe "What's wrong with me?" into "What experience is causing me to have these emotions/do these actions?" Because at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with us. We are human and our bodies and minds react to what is happening around us. Our behavior is the direct result of our emotions. Developing strategies to mitigate the emotions will help the behavior.


The strategies are not an easy fix. We are often looking for that when it comes to our mental health. There is nothing about our mental health that will ever have an easy fix. It is both the wonder and the irritant of being human. However, changes consistently over time will help. Sometimes, you just need to keep on the right path for a bit to get there. To help myself out, I:


Get Outside

This is a big one because it forces me to get away from my work and take a breather. It's difficult for me because although I like the peacefulness of living in the country, I'm not actually a big outdoors woman. However, I know that it is inevitable that if I get away from my house (especially because I work from home) I will feel momentarily better and like I have more energy.


Rest

Resting and sitting on the couch watching Netflix are not always the same thing. It depends a bit on why you're sitting there. If you're doing it because watching TV is truly relaxing for you, then that's fantastic. If you're doing it because you're procrastinating against your life and just need to disconnect a little longer, then it may be overwhelm. The magical question is, "Is what you're doing actually providing you with rejuvenation or is it just a distraction?" If it is not, you may need to change what you're doing. Allow your body and mind to relax a bit.


Quiet My Inner Voice

This is one of my biggest struggles not only because my inner negative voice can be quite loud but also because of the amount of ammunition it gives me to continue doing the things I am doing to distract myself. This ranges from "you have plenty of time it can be done later" to "but playing Wordscapes exercises your brain and makes you smarter." Even if that's true, want to know what else exercises my brain? Doing my grad school work that really, really shouldn't be done later. It takes practice to recognize when my brain is communicating things that are both untrue and unhelpful. It reminds me of that bullying poster only for myself: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Is it necessary? No? Then move on.


Being in a state of constant emotional overwhelming can be, well, overwhelming. It takes additional energy to try to fight it, and when you already feel like you're in a space where you have nothing left, that can be really difficult. Forgiving yourself and giving yourself grace is one of the most important things you can do. What would you tell someone else who was struggling? To rest? Take a walk? Be positive? Don't let your brain be nicer to other people than it is to you. Give yourself grace. Then give yourself strategies to move forward and take them one step at a time.


I've written about overwhelm before. You can find an article here and here.

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